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Relative of Sagay shooting victim blames recruiter, NFSW for massacre


A grieving relative of one of the victims of the Sagay City shooting incident in Negros Occidental on Monday said victims were promised that they would have a parcel of land in Hacienda Nene if they will join the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW).

A certain Nove Bantigue, niece of victim Rannel Bantigue, blamed the NFSW and its supposed organizer Rene Manlangit for the death of her uncle, adding that there were more or less 15 recruits when the shooting incident happened.

“My uncle was recruited by a certain Rene Manlangit, NFSW organizer, because he was promised to have parcel of the land in Hacienda Nene," Nove said in a statement, according to a press release issued by the military on Tuesday.

“My uncle was just two-days-old member with that group when the shooting incident happened," she said.

"This I think is the reason why all of them were enticed to join the group. Manlangit and his group NFSW are the only suspects of this crime," Nove added.

She said they were surprised that Rannel decided to join NFSW considering the fact that their family had a previous land dispute with Manlangit.

"My mother, Josephine Bantigue, wife of Rannel’s brother, is a former member of Agrarian Reform of Task Force Mapalad (TFM). It is also an association that aims to acquire land for farmers," Nove said.

"Unlike the NFSW, TFM does not believe in armed struggle. They are legal organization and does not have NPA (New People's Army) as armed protector," she added.

Nove recalled that TFM had planned to harvest farm products in Hacienda Nene. However, tenant Tessie Cabras got enraged and filed robbery and grave coercion case against the said group.

"It was also the time when Manlangit took my mother’s decision very seriously. At the time when warrant of arrest was released, Manlangit even escorted the police officers to my mother’s location," Nove said.

"My mother was jailed for six days but was released after the tenant decided not to pursue the case because she learned that my mother was the wife of her friend," she added.

Nove also claimed that Manlangit was in the area when the brutal killing occurred.

"He was there. Manlangit even reported the incident to the police and informed them with the intent to delay their response of an exaggerated 40 number of assailants. Why will he do that?” Nove said.

Meanwhile, Nove also cleared the military from being involved in the deadly incident.

"There is no way or reasons that our soldiers are involved in that incident. They were not there," Nove said.

"It is easy for us to identify new faces in our community that is why we are very certain that our soldiers don’t have the hand on this incident. The culprits did this to pin the blame to our soldiers," she added.

Bantigue was already laid to rest.

Manlangit was among the nine suspects who have been slapped with multiple murder cases.

Nine members of the NFSW were killed on October 20 as they were resting in Hacienda Nene in Purok Firetree. Three of the victims were supposedly burned by the suspects.

Some survivors have denied allegations that they also had firearms when the incident took place. They also dismissed the accusation that the NFSW is a front of the NPA.

The NFSW has maintained that the "private army" of "powerful landlords" in the area were responsible for the shooting incident.

The military, for its part, had claimed that the massacre was part of an alleged communist plot to remove President Rodrigo Duterte from power. —KG, GMA News

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